The fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fourth century marked the collapse of one of largest civilizations, as well as the beginning of radical cultural and social transformations. Hence, the Empire initiated the significant changes in all spheres of life including culture, art, politics, and philosophy.
The newly emerged civilizations, therefore, applied to the cultural ancestry left by the rich of the Greco-Roman culture. As a result of the transformation, the new world adopted Christianity and rejected the traditions of the Classical Antiquity as well as deviated from the famous Greco-Hellenistic models. Hence, the remnants of the great Roman Empire had been preserved in the philosophical, scientific, and artistic achievements representing the major cultural sources influencing the reformation of the European society in the Middle Ages.
Before the decline of the Roman Empire, Rome had considered the largest center of culture. Along with the Greek rich ancestry, including its philosophy, architecture, and culture, the Rome worshipped Greek-Hellenic models. However, their styles and models differed significantly from those represented in methodological themes.
Hence, they were more concerned with depicting real heroes and current events, including portrayal of military exploits and leaders. In addition, the Romans “…celebrated the achievements of a state that was their chief patron so that all the world might stand in awe of the state’s accomplishments” (Sayre 176). In addition, the Roman identity was also expressed in its marvelous architecture.
At this point, its architecture is especially known for the expansive interior spaces combined with the structural strength and unique form of the arch. Being great engineers, the Romans attained much importance to the public work so as to enhance the sense of identity and Roman power.
The adoption of the Christianity was among the most important events marking the development of the medieval society. New civilizations were developing their distinctive styles and visions that significantly deviated from the previously existing norms.
As a result, the Roman world experienced serious decline in cultural terms because the German invaders were not reader to undertake the role of cultural restorers (Perry 132). Nevertheless, the Greco-Roman world left rich ancestry due to high literary, scientific, philosophical, and artistic achievements.
Hence, because the invaders could not meet the high cultural and social structure of the previous civilizations, they heavily relied on religion and church being the only institution ready to reconstruct the civilized life (Perry 132). While denying humanities and prioritizing the role of the church and God in shaping the society, the medieval society centered on Christianity as a new philosophy of salvation.
Despite the new religious ideology, Roman rule both triggered and hampered Christianity. The centralized government guaranteed protection and peace because Rome stood against violence because of the fear of political revolt. At the same time, the Roman government was the major antagonist of the Christianity because it advocated the classical pantheon of Gods.
Roman cultural influence on the development of the European society was also expressed through use of folklore in the Christian literature. Because the religious teaching of the Middle Ages had not been singled out as a single ideological and philosophical teaching, introducing classical traditions complemented its philosophical basis.
In particular, St. Augustine, the pioneer in the Western Christianity often referred to the philosophical teachings of Cicero represented in Hortensius, introduction to philosophy (Highet 10). With the help of these works, the classical philosophy became a part of the Christian tradition and managed to preserve its basis to the present times.
Despite the rejection of previous cultural achievements, Roman cultural influence on the church and religion were still tangible. In particular, the Roman-Christian art focused primarily on spiritual rather than physical representation of the subject. The portrait of Constantine is one of the brightest examples of this artistic tendency (Sayre 258). Apart from sculpture and architecture, Roman culture had a potent impact on Christian music (Porter 202). Many Christian liturgies were largely influenced by the Roman classical traditions.
Despite the ignorance and rejection of the classical tradition at the beginning of the medieval period, the Middle Ages were still marked by the revival of the antique classical traditions, which justified the richness and depth of the Greco-Roman culture. Specifically, the European community in the twelfth century resorted to the scientific teachings of Hippocrates and Galen on medicine, Euclid on mathematics, and Ptolemy on astronomy and geography (Spielvogel 263).
Aristotle’s scientific works were also highly popular and they were translated in Latin, an international language in the West (Spielvogel 263). In this respect, the European community managed to intellectually recover from the Dark Ages by referring to immortal philosophical and scientific works of the Great Roman and Greek philosophy.
In conclusion, despite the significant influence of the German invasion and the adoption of the Christianity, the threads of classical tradition run through the period and managed to recover and reform the European community at the threshold of the era of enlightenment. Due to the artistic, philosophical, and scientific heritage left after the collapse of the Western Empire, the newly emerged civilization managed to advance their intellectual knowledge and develop different academic disciplines.
Highet, Gilbert. The Classical Tradition, Greek and Roman Influences on Western Literature. UK: Oxford University Press, 1985. Print.
Perry, Marvin. Western Civilization: A Brief History. US: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.
Porter, Stanley. Christian-Jewish Relations through the Centuries. US: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004. Print.
Sayre, Henry M. The Humanities: Culture, Continuity and Change US: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2011. Print.
Spielvogel, Jackson J. Western Civilization: To 1500. US: Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.